I was sitting in class today listening to a man from Uganda talk about how the US has all these "books for Africa" charities, and they collect all these books that are written in English, and ship them across the globe to kids who are either 1) illiterate or 2) non-English speaking. He said they use them for kindling.
Both Mitch and I have pretty cynical views of the world, and as we are becoming more educated in our given fields, we are only finding ourselves becoming more so. I suppose its a defense mechanism to protect us during our jobs, but it makes for some pretty morbid dinner talk. We would like to try to strike a balance between preserving our child's innocence, while at the same time presenting it with a realistic view of the world. Kids should get to do fun stuff, namely to participate in social norms, and they shouldn't have to worry about what kids on the other side of the world do or don't have. Nonetheless, we discovered we have a long way to go as we discussed various kid-oriented scenarios.
Birthdays: No, you can't have a birthday party at Scallywag Tag. There are kids in Somalia that don't even know their birthdays. They only know they were born during the last drought/flood/famine/conflict.
Prom: No, we are not spending $300 on a limo. There are kids in Malawi who have to walk two hours for water. You can drive your own damn car.
First Job: Don't complain about it. There are kids in Guatemala who sell sticks to tourists. And then beg for them back. They rent sticks to tourists. Rent them. (that one's a true story)
Stuff: No, I'm not buying you new cleats (because Mitch has already decided they're playing soccer). Kids in Brasil play soccer barefoot with a sand-filled soda bottle.
I'm both immensely grateful and somewhat guilt-ridden that we were born here, and that our children will be born here. Our kid will likely never have to worry about getting a parasite from the water, or being forced to drop out of school to support younger siblings, or starving during the winter because of a poor harvest. I think I take for granted that every time I flip the switch, the light turns on, or that every time I turn on the faucet, water comes out. I can only reconcile some of this guilt by trying to raise a child who values these very simple luxuries, and sees beyond his or her ecosystem. I currently have no idea how to do this, so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to share. And if it doesn't work, we can only hope that in the next 15 years, someone will institute some sort of compulsory Peace Corps service for brats. But then Mtv wouldn't have any material for the 19th season of "16 and Pregnant."